Solid hardwood floors
Solid hardwood floors come in a wide range of dimensions
and styles, with each plank made of solid wood and
milled from a single piece of timber. Solid hardwood
floors were originally used for structural purposes,
being installed perpendicular to the wooden support
beams of a building. Modern construction techniques now
rarely use wood building frames and solid hardwood
floors are used almost exclusively for their appearance.
For flooring, solid wood has many limitations due to the
natural characteristics of wood. Expansion and
contraction of wood from moisture and temperature
fluctuation puts many dimensional restrictions on solid
wood floors. Typically, 5" wide and 3/4" thick boards
are the largest that can be manufactured from solid wood
without compromising the structure of the flooring (some
manufacturers produce wider boards using proprietary
milling techniques). There is, however, no standard size
which will perform well in every environment. For
contemporary construction techniques, the most
significant characteristic of solid wood floors is that
they are not recommended to be installed directly over
Wood flooring is a popular feature in many houses.
Engineered wood flooring is composed of two or more
layers of wood in the form of a plank. The top layer
(lamella) is the wood that is visible when the flooring
is installed, and is adhered to the core (or sub-strait)
which provides the stability. Laminate, vinyl and veneer
floors are often confused with engineered wood floors -
laminate uses an image of wood on its surface, vinyl is
plastic formed to look like wood, and veneer uses a thin
layer of wood with a core that could be one of a number
of different composite wood products (most commonly,
high density fiberboard).
There are two different approaches to engineered wood
Wood ply construction ("sandwich core"): Uses multiple
thin plies of wood adhered together. The wood grain of
each ply runs perpendicular to the ply below it.
Stability is attained from using thin layers of wood
that have little to no reaction to climatic change. The
wood is further stabilized due to equal pressure being
exerted lengthwise and widthwise from the plies running
perpendicular to each other.
2) Finger core construction: Finger core engineered wood
floors are made of small pieces of milled timber that
run perpendicular to the top layer (lamella) of wood.
They can be 2-ply or 3-ply, depending on their intended
use. If it is three ply, the third ply is often plywood
that runs parallel to the lamella. Stability is gained
through the grains running perpendicular to each other,
and the expansion and contraction of wood is reduced and
relegated to the middle ply, stopping the floor from
gapping or cupping. Engineered wood is the most common
type of wood flooring used globally. North America is
the only continent that has a larger solid wood market
than engineered, although engineered wood is quickly
catching up in market share.